Prosecutors want 'QAnon Shaman' Jacob Chansley sentenced to more than 4 years in prison

Federal prosecutors want Arizona resident Jacob Chansley, the “QAnon Shaman” who wore horns and paraded shirtless through the halls of the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, to spend more than four years in prison for his role in the riot.

In a 28-page sentencing memo filed Tuesday, prosecutors requested that Chansley be sentenced to 51 months in prison — the longest term allowed by guidelines — plus three years of supervised release and $2,000 in restitution fees, KTAR-FM reported.

The filing referred to Chansley as “the public face of the Capitol riot,” and indeed images of his distinctive horns and face paint were ubiquitous in news reports on the events of Jan. 6.

“The defendant was among the first 30 rioters to penetrate the U.S. Capitol building,” prosecutors said. “The defendant then stalked the hallowed halls of the building, riling up other members of the mob with his screaming obscenities about our nation's lawmakers, and flouting the ‘opportunity' to rid our government of those he has long considered to be traitors.”

The defense filed a 23-page memo asking for a sentence of time served. U.S. Attorney Matthew Graves argued, however, that a longer sentence is needed to serve as a deterrent to other would-be rioters.

“The government submits that such a sentence would be an appropriate one, which would serve to protect the community, punish the defendant for his criminal conduct, and deter others from committing similar offenses,” the prosecution wrote.

Defense attorney Albert Watkins challenged this argument, writing there is little evidence that harsher prison sentences serve as a general deterrent to crime and that the defendant's prison time spent in solitary confinement because of COVID-19 protocols should be a consideration in favor of leniency.

Watkins also wrote that his client experienced a difficult childhood and has “mental health vulnerabilities” that should be considered. He compared Chansley to Forrest Gump, a slow-witted fictional character from the eponymous movie who witnessed and influenced major historical events.

Watkins wrote Chansley's “gait and apparent Forest Gump-like obliviousness to much of the activity and many of the actions of those surrounding him” pointed toward his mental health issues.

“He was not an organizer. He was not a planner. He was not violent. He was not destructive. He was not a thief,” the defense argued.

“Defendant respectfully requests that the Court impose a sentence significantly below the range of sentencing recommended under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, recognizing the harshness of the conditions surrounding time served to date, and impose such sentence as permits Mr. Chansley to proceed hence with his pursuit of his mental and physical health prioritized,” the defense memo states.

Before the Jan. 6 riot, Chansley attended several Arizona rallies for then-President Donald Trump, as well as protests in Phoenix, dressed in his distinctive costume. He is a longtime promoter of the QAnon conspiracy theory and one of many who questioned the integrity of the 2020 presidential election.

During the riot, he yelled into a bullhorn as police officers came into conflict with the mob, posed for photos in the Capitol building, and called then-Vice President Mike Pence a traitor for refusing to reject the Electoral College results submitted to Congress. He wrote a note to Pence saying, “It's only a matter of time, justice is coming.”

Chansley was one of more than 650 people who have been charged with federal crimes related to the events of Jan. 6, including more than 100 individuals accused of assaulting police officers.

He pleaded guilty on Sept. 3 to obstructing an official proceeding, a felony charge.

Chansley's sentencing hearing is on Nov. 17.

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